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The Coastal Coffee Lounge

“Come along inside… We’ll see if tea and buns can make the world a better place.”

That was the question Wind in the Willows author Kenneth Grahame once posed.

It would make a perfect legend to hang in the window of the Coastal Coffee Lounge, run by Gill Harris from unassuming premises in a side street just off the seafront at Sidmouth.

For in this extraordinary and surprising place, they are indeed dedicated, through tea, buns, some memorable coffee, a battery of mouth-watering treats and cheerful conversations, to making the world a better place.

And leading the crusade is its larger-than-life owner, Gill Harris, an irrepressible Mancunian who is happily obsessed with looking after her customers.

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Secret that brought down Treasury star

Exclusive interview with former Chief Secretary to the Treasury David Laws, published in the Western Daily Press on June 3, 2010

With his trademark clarity, David Laws neatly summed up the events of the past week.

“In a way, this is not an expenses story, although it has come across as that,” he said in the garden of his home near Chard.

“It is more about the mess that I have got into because of my desire to be dishonest about my sexuality.”

The Yeovil MP, 44, resigned as Chief Secretary to the Treasury on Saturday after The Daily Telegraph alleged earlier that day that he had claimed £40,000 in expenses for renting accommodation from his partner, James Lundie, breaking parliamentary rules.

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Reluctant conscript a nation’s favourite

Harry Patch is Britain’s sole survivor of the 1914-18 land war. On Tuesday, the nation will watch as the 110-year-old plays a central role at the Armistice Day ceremony at the Cenotaph in Whitehall. He spoke to Western Gazette editor Tim Dixon. Photographs by Len Copland.

A single, devastating shell blast killed three of his best mates and nearly accounted for Harry Patch during the Great War. He still feels a twinge from the shrapnel wound today – 91 years later. It is a constant reminder of a brief but bloody episode in his long life – when he fought on the Western Front.

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